I let the girls play hooky from school for most of the day today. Not that I do it very often (or at all really ... because frankly, I like my alone time). But today was for a special occasion ...
... A once in a lifetime opportunity to watch the Space Shuttle Discovery come in for its final landing here at its new home in the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia.
We dropped Grady off at school at 8 am, and then high tailed it over to the Udvar-Hazy museum, (which is fantastically located at the end of the Dulles airport runway), around 8:45 am, where we were hoping to be one of the 2000 cars to park and watch the landing up close and personal. Miraculously, we made it in and got a space, and by 9 am we parked and met our friends.
The excitement in the parking lot and around the museum was contagious. Everyone was holding cameras, iTouchs, cell phones, video cameras, anxious to catch a glimpse of the Space Shuttle Discovery attached to the top of the specially-modified 747.
Docents were circling the parking lot and continually informing everyone how many miles away the Shuttle was and how many minutes before flying by. Thankfully, we didn't have to wait as long as expected, as the Shuttle did its first of two fly-by's before 10 am.
It. Was. Spectacular.
The first fly-by was directly over head and before we even saw the Shuttle, we heard the roaring from the crowd above in the watch tower at the museum. Everybody craned their necks up, grabbed their cameras, and started cheering.
We had a bit of a break before the next fly-by as the Shuttle made its way over to DC, circling the National Mall and Monuments three times, before heading back towards Dulles to land.
For the second fly-by and the landing we moved up closer to the museum, which allowed us to have a higher vantage point and see the Shuttle directly over the trees. Amazingly, we couldn't have been more than a thousand'ish feet away.
It was SO close, it felt like you could touch it!
Riley took the below shaky video of the landing. Sheridan whined in the background. And I snapped a hundred or so photos ... opting NOT to crop the top of the trees out of the photo. Just to show you how close we really were!
What a fantastic day! How lucky were we to brave the crowds and experience this little piece of history.